What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words “Customer Loyalty Program”? Most of us usually think about e-commerce right away.
Traditional services do this all the time, but it can also be an excellent way to nurture and retain your SaaS users.
Sure, you need to make some tweaks before presenting a loyalty program to your audience, but you can use a model they’re already familiar with to your advantage, creating an even stronger connection with them.
Loyalty programs vs. partnerships
It’s important to note that loyalty programs for SaaS products aren’t the same as partner programs. The main difference is the reason you start a relationship with a third-party.
Partners are usually motivated by similar goals as you are. As you’re forming these relationships, the goal is to help each other boost sales and increase your revenues.
Opposed to that, loyalty programs are used to nurture existing users and achieve customer retention. This is done with awards for the connection they’ve already created with your brand. As a result, this can drive sales, but the approach isn’t incentive-based.
With that in mind, let’s talk about some ideas that can help you create the best type of loyalty program for your business and adapt it to suit your product.
How to create best customer loyalty programs?
When you form a starting base of customers for your product, it’s a good idea to think about the ways to keep them coming, especially if your software model is based on short-term subscriptions.
This is where tiers come in – the higher tier the user reaches, the more perks you should give them. Segment the tiers and give each one something to look forward to, but with enough magnets for the next one.
Categories can be based on two criteria:
Obviously, it would be ideal if all of your users made upgrades and bought add-ons every day. Still, you can encourage those that do it more frequently. For example, you can start by sorting users into tiers based on the type of package they’re using and name those categories differently.
If there’s a possibility to upgrade your product, you can approach it by launching new features for high-tier users or giving them early access to something new that you’ve launched.
Time they’ve invested in your brand
Even If your product has a single type of subscription that doesn’t provide opportunities for frequent purchases, you can still make the trust that your users gave you count.
Try giving long-term users a discount for their next subscription or give them an option to give input on your future activities.
Both of these work as the users like being recognized even after they’ve made a purchase. This also provides an incentive to future prospects or newly registered ones to be more active and stick with you in the long term.
1. Make it exclusive
This type of incentive further expands on the idea of tiered customer loyalty programs.
Maybe you can’t technically sell out your digital product, but by creating premium programs, you emphasize exclusivity. Limited editions make users feel like they have something not many others get.
As SaaS products vary, you can get creative with incentives for your audience to reach that elusive top level.
For example, you can have an option for your premium users to get a live consultation session with someone from your company.
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Another way to go about this is to create exclusive materials that only selected users can get, such as eBooks.
To keep this type of program exciting, you should continue to introduce new benefits for customers that reached the premium status. This works well both for user retention and acquisition of new ones.
They’ll always be on the lookout for new things coming, so the existing top-tier users will have a reason to stay, while others can see the point of getting there.
2. Gamify the experience
Sometimes you need to make things more dynamic so that the users stay invested in your loyalty program instead of skipping your newsletters.
You can take the method that’s well-established for traditional products and adapt it for your platform. Gamification can be an additional incentive for your customers to stay engaged.
Create a point system that corresponds with your product by adding certain values to specific actions. There are multiple ways this could work for your brand:
Keeping things interesting
One of the most obvious applications of gamification is to have users coming back. You can do this by introducing progress points to your software. A great example of this is Duolingo, with its levels and achievements.
Tracking recurring actions
Another way to get the most out of this type of activity is by adding a social aspect. Introduce public tracking of results and have an option for easy sharing or comparing achievements. Yearly sharing of Spotify Wrapped and its virality makes a good case for this.
Getting to know your users
You can gain additional data while also integrating sales elements into the interactive form. Quizzes and similar ways of getting feedback can be a fun activity that doesn’t take a lot of time, so you can expect users to engage with them. This is especially true if you provide a reward such as a discount or other purchase incentives.
Keep them curious
Finally, you can use irregular rewarding patterns to surprise the users. Create seasonal reward calendars or add surprise discounts for various occasions. Think outside the box with these and don’t stick just to Black Friday or Christmas.
The perfect way to complement this is by integrating everything with your mobile app to make it easier to access.
3. Partner with relevant businesses
When it comes to partnerships, you can use them in more than one way as a strategy for greater market penetration. Aside from partner programs, you can mix the services or products and provide your users with something outside your area of expertise.
Combined with incentives tied directly to your product, you can integrate some interesting benefits that complement your brand and are interesting for your audience.
One way to go about this is by having a company within your niche and arranging for an incentive such as a plug-in that makes your product work even better.
Or, you can create various co-marketing opportunities such as hosting a podcast together or informational webinars that all customers can enjoy.
Another approach is to pick a partner from a completely different industry and have a tie-in that corresponds with your brand’s image.
An excellent example of a collaboration like this is (again) Spotify with their Uber tie-in that allows users to play their own playlists while they ride. This was a great incentive for users to get the paid version of the app, as you couldn’t use the feature without it.
This is a great way to stay on top of the user’s mind and, even if you don’t get sales right away, it pays off in the long run.
4. Reward referrals
One of the best ways to get new customers is through referrals. Research shows that referred customers tend to be between 16% and 24% more loyal to a brand than other ones.
Best customer loyalty programs are those that rewards people in different ways.
You can be creative and come up with a number of benefits for customers who send you referrals. Consider special discounts, free resources or access to advanced features for a limited amount of time.
Make sure that referrals have their own premium program that is different from everything else. You want to show that appreciating referrals isn’t just a marketing strategy, but a sincere way of thanking your customers.
Ideally, you should reward both the old and the new customer. This way, you show how much you appreciate everyone who comes to your company this way. Such a move can create a strong sense of community and help you increase customer loyalty for your SaaS business in the long run.
5. Promoting your customer loyalty program
Finally, there’s always a need to push everything that you’ve created.
Think about involving a relatable and trustworthy face that’s relevant to your audience and have them be a part of the program. Research relevant influencers in your niche, create an email marketing campaign to start a dialog and establish a partnership, and invest time and resources into building a long-lasting relationship.
To be sure that you made a good pick, set clear criteria for the right person and use Instagram influencer search tools to help you.
A good way to approach this integration is to involve the influencer is more than just sharing your content or having a referral.
Instead, you can tie them into some of the features that you’ve prepared for your customer loyalty program. For example, have them actually participate in the gamified part, or, even better, have them as part of the incentive for top-tier users.
This can work for niche-relevant influencers that can share their expertise with your audience, attracting new ones in the process.
With buyers taking brand loyalty seriously, you should consider creating best SaaS customer loyalty programs for your consumers and strength your product’s position in the market.
Think about the ways that you can engage all of your users, not just those that are yet to convert, and don’t be afraid to make things fun.
Even if it looks that your product isn’t suitable to promote in this way, try thinking about unexpected ways to show up for your audience. We’re sure they’ll be more than open to see what you have in store for them.
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Andrii Kalashnyk is the CMO at trendHERO with 9+ years of experience in digital marketing. He started out as an email marketing manager, moving on to copywriting - and for the last three years has been focused on analytics and influencer discovery.